When it comes to the décor of your big day, few things affect the overall look more than your floral choices, whether your entire bridal party is donning flower crowns, or you're giving petals out for guests to toss. And though you can wing a lot of things (your father-daughter dance, for example; no one is judging your pop's funky chicken), your wedding flowers shouldn't be one of them. That's where floral samples come in — they can help you pinpoint what you want to tweak and what you're gaga over. Keep reading for the rundown on how to manage this crucial step.
Types of Samples
There are a number of different "samples" that you can get from an event designer or florist, including a full tabletop set up (with china, stemware, linens, centerpieces and anything else that is part of the table design at the reception), centerpiece samples, and bouquet samples. Ask your vendor which type of samples he or she provides and if there is a cost associated with them. Some sample arrangements are included as part of the overall price, while for others there is an additional cost, experts say. Make sure to clarify whether you will be able to take the sample with you — if, for example, a centerpiece is arranged in a rental container, you may not be able to go home with it.
Leslie Newman, cofounder of event design company Botanica, Inc., says one of the biggest pluses of getting a décor preview — like the full tabletop design samples his company provides — is knowing what you're getting. "The benefit is the client knows exactly what the design will be and what will be delivered for the negotiated price," he says. "It also relieves a lot of pressure and stress for all involved."
Seeing a sample of your wedding flowers also provides a great opportunity to give feedback as well. "If your floral designer's vision is way off from what you expected — speak up!" Holly Tam and Mia Fattrosso, owners of Feather + Rock Events, say in an e-mail. "Truly, you won't hurt anyone's feeling if you do not like something — this is the right time to voice your opinion before any flowers for your big day are ordered! If they used a flower you don't like…politely say no thank you. No one wants an unhappy bride! This is why we stress sharing images of flowers you like and flowers you don't like. Bottom line, it's your day, and the floral designer, the event designer and the planner all want you to be overwhelmed by joy — not upset with a bud or two you don't like!"
Though of course you want to provide constructive feedback when you see your sample, it's important that you communicate before that stage of the process. Show your event designer or florist photos of arrangements that you gravitate to early on and pinpoint additional textural elements, like ribbons that you like, in advance and show them to your vendor.
When you are expressing what you want, however, make sure that your inspo-items are cohesive…and realistic. "The more information provided the better," Newman says. "But it should be consistent. If the client is all over the place with a multitude of ideas it may take a while to whittle down or develop the design."
Most importantly, make sure you're on the same page in regards to the budget. Newman says often, if a sample is wildly different than what a bride expected, it can be due in part to an unrealistic budget. "A lot of what clients see on TV, Pinterest, web searches, print and other events create a false sense of budget and expectations," he says. "If a client is honest about the budget in the beginning it will produce the best results and save a lot of time and money for all involved."